The Norman Police Department will be stepping up seat belt enforcement efforts as part of a 15-month enforcement and education program. NPD was selected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to lead a seat belt safety demonstration project focused on increasing occupant seat belt use and reducing unrestrained fatalities by building community support for seatbelt enforcement through public information and education.
Norman police and a coalition of community partners have joined forces to create the project titled BUCKLE UP LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY to save lives in Norman.
“Wearing your seat belt is the single best way to protect yourself in a traffic crash,” explains Norman Police Chief Keith Humphrey. “Buckling up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas not buckling up can result in being ejected from the vehicle in a crash, which is almost always deadly.” Chief Humphrey was joined by representatives from NHTSA, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, and a coalition of other local community partners today to officially kick off the unique enforcement and education project that will span the next 15-months.
Norman’s current seat belt usage rate stands at 88.6%, which is 2% above the state average of 86.9%. However, Oklahoma’s seat belt usage rate trails the national average of 90.9% for other primary seat belt law states. A primary seat belt law allows an officer to stop and cite a driver if he or she observes a violation. According to the latest national statistics, while only 10% of the population travels unrestrained, unrestrained vehicle occupants make up nearly half of all fatalities. In 2016, 244 people not wearing a seat belt died on Oklahoma roads. Three of those fatalities were children under the age of 12. Sadly, 41.5% of 224 of unrestrained fatalities were totally ejected from the vehicle. BUCKLE UP LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY is a partnership to encourage people to make seat belt use a lifelong habit.
A coalition of state and local community partners will lend a hand by promoting seat belt use, sharing their plans to increase belt use, and conducting educational activities. Outreach efforts will include programs and activities in Norman schools, senior centers, businesses and community groups and organizations.
NPD and its community partners understand and respect the positive impact that increasing seat belt use can have on individuals, families, and the community. Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to reduce fatalities in motor vehicle crashes. Working together and emphasizing visible and stepped-up enforcement and using data driven and creative strategies to enforce Oklahoma’s seat belt law is the best opportunity to reduce unbelted crashes, injuries and save lives, making seat belt use a habit for life.
Upon its completion, the BUCKLE UP LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY project will serve as the foundation and guide for other law enforcement agencies and communities to replicate across the country in an effort to increase seat belt usage and save lives.